My game is great … don’t you think?

Jessica Berlin Playtesting 0 Comments

You ignored your spouse and kids for an entire weekend so you could precisely measure out all the spaces on your player board in Photoshop or Gimp. You brainstormed new player powers for your game when you had some down time at work. You convinced your spouse to play your game on date night. You only ever watch TV if you also have to cut out some cards or tiles for your game. You pulled apart your old Settlers, Puerto Rico, and Lords of Waterdeep games to take out all the bits and bobs and use them for your own game. You’ve spent more money at The Game Crafter than you’d care to admit. You buy printer ink by the …

Is your next playtest scheduled?

Jessica Berlin Playtesting 3 Comments

When is your next playtest scheduled? Is it on the calendar? Is it firm? Nothing’s going to change it? You’re going to get your game ready and actually do the playtest, right? Have you ever had a playtest on your calendar, maybe at a local convention, an Unpub Mini or Protospiel event, or just a meetup with other game designers or your local board gaming group, but then when that date actually came around you didn’t really think your game was ready to be playtested, so you decided not to go, or maybe you went, but didn’t bring your game out? You figured it could wait until the next time, right? No big deal. But, what do you think you …

Getting gamers to play your prototype

Jessica Berlin Playtesting 2 Comments

Recently, we’ve struggled a little bit at our last couple of events to get people to play our prototype game and I’m sure other game designers have this problem also. If you take your game to a board game convention that isn’t specifically for playtesting prototypes, then it seems like gamers aren’t usually all that interested. They want to play published games. Or, they already have a group of people they’re playing with and a plan for their day, which doesn’t usually include playtesting prototypes. We need as many people as possible to play our game and give us feedback, so we can make sure that it plays well and we can work out all the bugs. And we can’t …

Searching for local game conventions

Jessica Berlin Conventions 1 Comment

Recently, I’ve been trying to figure out where else we can take our game to playtest it. We’re in San Diego, Calif., which means we’re pretty far away from most of the big gaming conventions in the U.S. (why are there so many in the eastern part of the country?!). We have a couple small local board gaming cons here in the San Diego area (we’ve been to both Kingdom-Con and EsCon) and there’s Strategicon three times a year in LA, which is great. But, I’ve been trying to cast a wider net and see what else is out there that we might be able to participate in and get some playtesting in for our game. While I was searching …

Gen Con tips for the first timer

Jessica Berlin Conventions 0 Comments

My two business partners, Dave and Ryan, attended Gen Con for the first time last year. Afterwards, Dave wrote the following blog post with his thoughts and reflections on his experiences. We’re posting it again here as game designers around the world are getting ready for Gen Con 2016. We won’t be attending this year, but we hope to go again soon. And if you are planning on going, we hope these tips help you out. As a new company in the board game industry, we don’t measure success by the number of games we publish in a year or by the revenue those games (would hypothetically) generate. Success to us means meeting important players in the industry, practicing our …

Learning lessons from running Unpub Mini SD

Jessica Berlin Playtesting 0 Comments

We hosted our fourth Unpub Mini San Diego playtesting event on Saturday, June 4, and I think it was our best one yet! We had a great turnout. We had 30 game designers registered (a couple ended up dropping out or not showing up, so we ended up having a few less than that) and we had a packed room of playtesters almost the whole day. We’ve learned a few things along the way, since we hosted our first Unpub Mini event in 2014 and I wrote the blog post, “How to host your own Unpub Mini event,” so we thought it might be good to write an updated post on the event. We changed things up a little bit …

What do my playtesters’ nonverbal behaviors mean?

Jessica Berlin Playtesting 1 Comment

You’re running a playtest of your game and you look around at the players and notice a few things. One is on the edge of his seat, leaning forward, looking intently at the board. Another player is leaning back, legs crossed, arms crossed, and frowning slightly. And the other person is holding her head up with her hand and tapping her foot on the floor. What do all these different nonverbal signals mean and should you be paying attention to them? What do these players say (verbally or in writing) about the game after the playtest is over and is what they’re saying verbally matching what their nonverbal behaviors are saying? I recently read a book called “Body Language: How …

What to ask on your playtesting feedback form

Jessica Berlin Playtesting 7 Comments

Collecting feedback about your game from playtesters is a critical part of the game design process. When you first start playtesting, you may just be playing through the game and trying to figure out what’s broken and how to fix it and make it better. But, at some point, you’ll probably realize that you need a way to collect more structured feedback from your playtesters. You need honest feedback, not just someone saying, “that was fun,” after the playtest. And you need a way to evaluate if your game is improving over time. You need a feedback form. But, how do you figure out what kinds of questions to ask and how much to include on your feedback form? I’ve …

How to host your own Unpub Mini event

Jessica Berlin Playtesting 8 Comments

This post was originally published on the League of Gamemakers blog on Feb. 25, 2015. Since this was posted, we have organized two more Unpub Mini San Diego events and we are currently planning another event for Saturday, June 4. Designer preregistration begins April 1. To sign up for email updates about the event, visit unpubminisd.com. Unpub Mini If I told you that I hosted an Unpub Mini event in San Diego last November for tabletop game designers to run playtests of their prototype games, you might think I’m part of a big game design studio, that I’ve done this before, or that we even have a published game. You’d be wrong on all counts, but we did it anyway! …

Five tips to make your first public playtest a success

Jessica Berlin Playtesting 6 Comments

You’ve made an amazing new board or card game. You came up with an awesome idea, put together a prototype, forced your spouse or close friends to play it with you, refined it as much as you could, and now you’re planning to take it out into the wild. Playtest, playtest, playtest, right? You know you have to playtest this game as much as possible so you can refine it and make sure it’s really great. So, you’ve scheduled your first public playtest. Maybe you’re taking it to a board game Meetup group, a local gaming convention, or an Unpub Mini event. But, wherever you’re going, people who don’t know you are going to be playing your game. What do …